Best of 2009

Up, WAY UP, In the Air

by Alan Rapp on December 18, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Up in the Air
  • IMDB: link

Every couple of years it seems director Jason Reitman is putting out a movie that ends up on my best of the year list. Oh wait, that’s exactly what he’s been doing.

Starting in 2005 with Thank You for Smoking followed by 2007’s Juno, Reitman has quickly made a name for himself creating smart, funny, off-beat, award-winning films with heart, wit, and a little bit of sass.

Another two years have gone by, and Reitman returns once again with tale of a salesman. In Thank You for Smoking Aaron Eckhart made smoking not only palatable, but patriotic.

Here Reitman casts George Clooney as a termination specialist, a man who is selling unemployment – with a smile. And as he did with Eckhart, Reitman allows the man’s natural charm and the wit of the script to soften the hard edges of what it is he’s selling. If you’ve never believed a movie about firing people could be this entertaining, you’re about to be proven very wrong.

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Fantastic Mr. Fox, Simply Fantastic

by Alan Rapp on November 25, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Fantastic Mr. Fox
  • IMDB: link

I’m far from director Wes Anderson’s biggest fan. Although I enjoyed The Royal Tenenbaums (and to a lesser extent The Darjeeling Limited), in my opinion, most of his work seems to value style over, and sometimes at the cost of, substance.

Anderson’s latest Fantastic Mr. Fox is a stop-motion animated adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book about a fox fighting his own nature to steal from the wealthy farmers Boggis (Robin Hurlstone), Bunce (Hugo Guinness) and Bean (Michael Gambon), and provide his family with what he feels they deserve.

And, I must admit, it’s really, really good. In many ways the film is a perfect fit for Anderson and merge of its offbeat humor with his own. The stop-animation allows the director to play to his strenghts and design a a complete world. And as a book the story is naturally divided into the kinds of chapters Anderson enjoys breaking his film into (here he even provides titles for each).

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Glorious “Basterds”

by Alan Rapp on August 21, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Inglourious Basterds
  • IMDB: link

inglourious-basterds-posterQuentin Tarantino is a filmmaker. Love him or hate him, the man has a passion and reverence for cinema as well as a definite style in crafting his own projects. Inglourious Basterds, the writer/director’s latest, took more than a decade to come to the screen. The film is many things, but boring isn’t one of them. Insane and glorious, Tarantino has finally succeeded in crafting a film I can’t help but love.

Although I’ve always respected Tarantino as a director (less so as a producer), and will easily admit to the quality of Pulp Fiction, at times his career has taken him down paths I wasn’t keen on following.

I had a mixed reaction to Kill Bill: Vol. 1 and I’ve forgotten nearly everything associated with part two (except my disappointment).

I give him full credit in making strong choices with his stories and jumping in with both feet. Kill Bill just wasn’t my type of crazy; Inglourious Basterds is. And, oh boy, is it crazy!

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Adventureland

by Alan Rapp on April 3, 2009

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: Adventureland
  • IMDB: link

If you’ve seen the trailer and commercials for Adventureland you may very well walk in expecting something like Superbad. Although the film contains some similar humor there’s so much more worth savoring including great moments, both large and small, and the type of love story women will enjoy and guys won’t need to be shackled to the seat to watch. After a single viewing I’m not prepared to call Adventureland a great film, but it is a damn good movie with a little something for everyone.

Jesse Eisengerg (think a less twitchy Michael Cera) stars as James Brennan who is forced to take a job at a local amusement park when his summer plans fall through.

As you would expect the park is filled with characters including his cock-punching best friend from kindergarten (Matt Bush), the sardonic Joel (Martin Starr), the cool older dude (Ryan Reynolds), the beautiful aloof dancer (Margarita Levieva), the wacky couple who run the joint (Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig), and, most importantly, the enchanting yet troubled Em (Kristen Stewart).

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